San Francisco: Unusual Flavors and Hip Vibe at Humphry Slocombe, Mission Institution
Monday, December 17, 2012

Humphry Slocombe is one of the most famous ice cream parlors in San Francisco, and for good reason. Located in the Mission district, right around the corner from Scoop Blog's HQ, this small parlor regularly churns out some of the city's best scoops. Known for its long lines and unusual flavors, the shop tends to change its line-up daily, keeping only its two most popular creations: Secret Breakfast (Bourbon and Cornflake Ice Cream), and Blue Bottle's Vietnamese Coffee.

Founded in 2008 by pastry chef Jake Godby, it feels like this shop has been in the neighborhood since the dawn of creation. Humphry Slocombe is one of those shops that define the Mission. With classic Mission vibe and proudly displaying an actual preserved siamese cow head, you can expect to hear interesting conversations while waiting in what will probably be a very long line (hint: if you can sneak out and visit during a weekday, the wait is much shorter). The name comes from two characters in an old British TV comedy, "Are You Being Served," an obscure cultural reference that we can only guess was chosen out of irony.

It's real!

Slocombe's flavors tend to veer towards the "unique" end of the spectrum, although we take issue with those who argue that their creations are "bizarre". Many flavors are simply clever, if unusual, enhancements on traditional flavors. The shop also tends to carry at least one or two interpretations of classic flavors. Flavors are usually intensified, but quality of development varies. We have had some ice creams at Slocombe that scream "10," but have had other flavors that were out of balance, with certain components completely dominating the flavor profile. Texture is also inconsistent at the shop. On some days, the ice cream will be perfectly smooth, with a wonderful density that is slightly higher than normal. On other days, the texture is extremely grainy, with bits of ice crystal present. This seems to be an especially common occurrence with their famous Vietnamese Ice Coffee flavor, made with San Francisco's beloved Blue Bottle Coffee. We can only speculate that freezer burn is the cause of most of these ice crystals, with certain flavors (such as the Blue Bottle) tending to take on more crystals because of ingredients' melting points.

Flavor Tasting Notes

It gets BUSY here - try to avoid the weekend crowd!

Secret Breakfast

Humphry Slocombe's most famous flavor. Very pronounced bourbon note. Small bits of cornflakes with great crunch. Satisfying, bold, and delicious! We highly recommend you try this flavor, if you haven't already.

Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee

House favorite, but unimpressed. Slightly watery. Has notes of strong, over-extracted coffee, sourced by local roaster Blue Bottle.


Very nuanced dark oolong flavor, bordering on black tea. Highly developed flavor, but slightly thin, uncreamy texture. Large Ice crystals.

Cinnamon Brittle

One of the best cinnamon bases SCOOP Blog has ever had. Very balanced cinnamon that has strong, yet balanced, spiciness and sweetness (perhaps citrus notes, even?) Complemented by great brittle. Unfortunately, brittle not particularly abundant, but works real well with ice cream when you get the two in the same bite. Cream texture is good, fairly dense. Has large ice crystals.

Butter and Beer

Stout and brown butter ice cream. Stout flavor present but less prominent and lighter than expected. They nailed the brown butter flavor - impressive. Flavor eminently balanced, with integrated sweetness that is not overpowering. Texture is dense, smooth, creamy.

Guinness Ginger Bread

Intense ginger note. Smooth, great texture, denser than other Slocombe ice creams SCOOP Blog has had. Giant Bits of crunchy ginger bread. Hard to make out Guinness flavor, other than subtle bass notes, which is surprising considering how powerful Guinness tastes. That being said, the Guinness seems to produce a more rounded, balanced flavor.

Balsamic Caramel

Very smooth. Good texture, medium dense. Very strong balsamic note. Caramel hard to taste outside of an overly strong salty note. Less balsamic, with more caramel flavor, would be better.

Chocolate Malt

Malt is subtle but present. Chocolate flavor is good, if a little simple. Good bass notes on the chocolate. Perfect smoothness. Medium dense.

Olive Oil

Really nice, balanced olive oil flavor infused with small bits of citrus peel. Great texture, and makes a killer combo with Humphry Slocombe's balsamic vinegar topping.

Final Score: 8.5/10

Humphry Slocombe

2790A, Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110